- United Airlines has increased flights on the Guam-Saipan route from three to four, with an additional flight on Fridays in April, according to the Commonwealth Ports Authority. A Jeju Air charter flight arrived in Saipan on March 19 with 32 passengers, departing with 33, the authority said.
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has lowered Guam’s risk level to Level 2, according to an April 6 release from the Office of the Governor.
- Passengers flying to Singapore can use the International Air Transport Association travel passport app from May. Singapore Airlines trialed the app on a flight to London on March 17, according to a March 18 release. About 40 airlines are trialing the app.
- Vaccinated tourists will not need to quarantine in six major tourist provinces, with Phuket being the first to open July 1. Chon Buri (Pataya) and Chiang Mai are among the six, according to an April 3 release from the Tourism Authority of Thailand. After seven nights, tourists will be allowed to visit other areas. Phuket has a series of new events and festivals planned for 2021, which include a seafood festival, a surfskate series and an arts event.
CDC issues long-awaited guidelines, FDA announces additional dosage for Moderna, NMI gets additional aid for vaccinations
According to the April 2 guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, “Fully vaccinated people can resume domestic travel and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.” Also, the CDC said, “Fully vaccinated people do not need to get tested before leaving the United States (unless required by the destination) or self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States.” Further information can be found at www.cdc.gov.
No word yet on when Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands will adopt the guidelines. Although Guam eased business restrictions at the end of March – allowing multiple types of businesses 75% occupancy and raising a “gathering” cap raised from 25 to 50 people, no easing of quarantine has yet been announced, despite an expectation that this will occur May 1 when the island officially opens for tourism.
Guam saw seven new CCOVID-19 cases announced April 5. Esther Muna, CEO of the Commonwealth Health Corp. said in an April 1 news conference that there have been no new cases in the NMI. “We are still [community] testing on Wednesdays,” she said. “Our cases have been imported. We need to guard that.”
No word either on a planned tourism bubble between Guam and Taiwan or Gov. Lourdes A. Leon Guerrero’s trip to the country. The NMI is reaching out to key markets, Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said at the news conference (See separate article in this News Flash).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced April 1 that for the Moderna vaccine, “ … the maximum number of extractable doses is 11, with a range of 10-11 doses. The second revision authorizes the availability of an additional multi-dose vial in which each vial contains a maximum of 15 doses, with a range of 13-15 doses that can potentially be extracted.”
In other vaccination news, a team comprised of a medical officer and 11 combat medics assigned to the 25th Infantry Division at U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii traveled to Saipan April 1. The soldiers will complete a 30-day assignment to augment the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. to vaccinate residents of the Northern Mariana Islands, according to an April 3 release from Joint Region Marianas.
FSM to repatriate residents
The Federated States of Micronesia’s Declaration of Public Health Emergency has been extended to May 31. The Office of the President also said April 5 that May 13 is the date for repatriation of medical patients, students and “high level diplomats,” all of whom are required to be fully vaccinated, with limited exceptions. A 14-day quarantine on arrival will still apply.
NMI ready to distribute stimulus checks, no announcement for Guam
David DLG. Atalig, director of the Northern Mariana Islands Department of Finance, said the next round of stimulus checks could be distributed by direct deposit the week of April 5, with paper check mailouts to follow. Speaking at an April 1 news conference, he said, “We just finalized our agreement with the IRS.” Atalig said the NMI expects $85 million for the first distribution, which will be based on 2019 tax return data. “We understand there are some people that have adjusted their income,” Atalig said. The NMI expects to receive more than $120 million. “It is a moving target,” he said.
Neither the Office of the Governor nor the Guam Department of Revenue & Taxation has confirmed when Guam will begin distribution.
In other NMI news, Lt. Governor Arnold I. Palacios told the Journal that as regards the opening of the tourism industry, “The governor’s economic advisers are looking at everything.” He said that unlike Hawaii, which attracts U.S. tourists, a lot of the NMI’s tourists are from Asia, and at present have to quarantine on return to their home countries. “One of the recommendations – from Hann Tour – is to find out what sort of model will work, if any.” Hana Tour Service Inc. focuses on the Korea market.
Union holds protest on job losses
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 1260 union held a protest outside the front gate of Andersen Air Force Base on April 1.
The IBEW’s main goal for the protest was to bring attention to recent local jobs lost during a contractor switch for the service contract.
According to Journal files, Invicta Defense LLC – headquartered in Texas, was awarded in September an $8.1 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity one year contract for “transportation management and logistic support services,” with an option to renew, which would take the value of the contract to $22.3 million.
According to the union, about 60 employees were not offered employment with Invicta.
Ken Laguana, assistant business manager of IBEW 1260, said there was a good turnout for the rally, and that “even a couple Air Force people showed up” to support the cause.
“We did what we had to do, it was great,” he said. “I wanted to make a statement to make them do the right thing.”
He said the problem was that Invicta did not communicate any potential job loss during the switch.
“They didn’t explain to those guys that have been out there forever why they didn’t get an offer letter. It’s just bad business and not the proper way to do it,” Laguana said.
The bottom line, he said is, “This is an island problem; this is a people problem. We have to do whatever we can to protect our people. I think we should learn from this and all do something to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Australian startup promotes Guam for gamers
OneQuode, an Australian telecom company is promoting Guam to online gamers and the esports industry, touting the island’s latency. “OneQuode, in a regional first is deploying server and data center capacity in Guam to level the playing field and radically improve real-time internet applications in Asia Pacific,” the company said on its website. The company also offers a variety of other services.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has $44.5 million available for distance learning and telemedicine grants in fiscal 2021, with $10.2 million for projects that provide substance use disorder treatment. Applicants can include “state and local government entities, federally recognized tribes, non-profits and for-profit businesses, according to an April 5 release. Applications can be madde through grants.gov no later than June 4.
The Guam Economic Development Authority awarded seven organizations a total of $303,000 in Qualifying Certificate Community Contribution Series 3, funded by Guam Regional Medical City and Tsubaki Tower QCs. Recipients are: The Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association, $50,000; Guam Unique Merchandize and Art Inc., $49,911; Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, 44,103.40; Micronesia Community Development Corp., $29,956; GCA Trades Academy, $48,480; Department of Corrections, $49,025; Oceanic Ascent Education Inc., also known as Guahan Sustainable Culture, $31,800. Another $300,000 in grants will be awarded through Series 4, according to an April 5 release. (See www.mbjguam for other GEDA news)
War in the Pacific National Historical Park announced the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center is now to the public on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For group visits, email request to [email protected]. mbj